Saturday, 23 February 2013

Cyb Art

A quick post to bring a little attention to a friend and workmates' artistic talents. TheCybil Gallery on Deviant Art shows us a little slice of Cybele's work - who knows this post may encourage her to load up more.

She has work loaded using various media, traditional painting, digital painting, drawing etc - here are a few samples:

Friday, 22 February 2013

Loch Maiden - Colour, Names and Game Ref

In the previous post there were lots of sketches which included other ‘working titles’ for the game. I just refer to it as Loch Maiden now, though Loch Dreagan (which sounds so cool when you try on a big Scottish accent) and may still end up being the title that I run with. There were various Valentine titles and a suite of sea faring versions. I explored translations into Celtic or Scottish languages for Monster, Dragon, Worm and other related terms which was fun.

One thing I havent fully resolved as yet is the precise game mood – how serious/comical are the characters and the world they inhabit. The sketches are in the middle of the spectrum with a big lean to the comical side. I am very wary of going too silly as it weakens some of the elements and can feel too childish, so the more recent sketches are a little edgier and I think all the better for it. I did a super fast colour underlay for a suite of the sketches as below to show how coloured monsters may look. Clearly each could use some colour variation on their skin, but for a eyes half closed and blurry take on colour I like where this is at.

After sketching board logics and how the monsters and other game elements might work together I was searching for other board games that might already have used an aquatic monster in the Loch Ness tradition (esp with the monster looping above the water). While not an exact match for the idea, there is the Loch Ness game where Nessie follows paths around the board and your goal is to snap some good photos. I havent seen the game myself, but these images via the BoardGameGeek entry show a similar logic with the board being the water surface. The colours and the extra cartoony feel arent so appropriate, but there are some cute art things here - I like the zany castles for example...

[Loch Ness game photos via BoardGameGeek]

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Loch Maiden - Intro and concept sketches

A world where kilt eating monsters strive to win the heart of their Loch Maiden.

I have been coming up with ideas for short films, games and environments over the last few years that have all been lots of fun to think through and work on the concept sketches and other elements. Well I am adding another one to the mix, and it has held my attention for an entire sketchbook worth of doodles, drawings, rules, mechanics, writing and more over the last month or so. Welcome to Loch Dreagan!

The whole idea is a board game where players take on the role of a monster trying to win the heart of a stunning, yet fickle female Loch Monster in competition with your fellow Monsters. Over this courtship period you will need to deal with events and obstacles from whirlpools to rampaging Scottish longboats. By the time the fair maiden monster makes up her mind, the suiters will all be hugely long and doubtless upsetting the local villages to the point of bringing their war parties upon you all.

You can see by all the concept sketches that there is lots of variety in the monsters themselves and that enhances the narrative logic of the game. Each monster will have traits and afflictions evolve through the game as they try to complete the females ‘desires’ for trinkets, dessert, displays of power and rare gifts. Your monster must navigate Loch Dreagan to get hunt down what she desires and that keeps changing…

The concept sketch compilations below have been quite a few ideas explored which included a more ocean faring version with pirates, reefs, merchant vessels and Krakens – but we are back on track with the nice Scottish tartans, bagpipes and accents. The board should be very appealing, with the monsters wriggling above and below the water in classic Loch Ness fashion. This was actually the initial spark from which all the other ideas and game mechanics have flowed now and it should look groovy with multiple monsters and other game elements all writhing about on one board. I will go into the mechanics of how Desires, Energy Tokens, Growth, Events and the AI are looking in later posts as they really do need more work.

One of the factors that gives this board game project extra legs is that the look’n’feel and narrative translate very well into crafting digital trailers and short filmic pieces that can hopefully be used to complete my COFA MDM degree (finally!) I envisage that a little tale from the perspective of a struggling Loch Monster and true love would make a fun little story and serve as a trailer for the game itself. The tech for such a thing could be just 3ds Max with rendering straight from there, or bringing those assets into CryEngine to develop skills in that platform as well. 3D printing is another obvious link to that digital 3D modelling side as the board pieces should work quite nicely with the resolution of very approachable devices – how cool will that be.

So here are the pencil concept pieces so far – roughly reverse-chronological order if that shows the evolution of the ideas (note these are compiled from lotsa separate pages with only a sketch or two per A5, just in case you were wondering about the composition):

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Shorts - Stardust and Paths of Hate

A quick look at a pair of shorts, each with a message to tell in very different ways.

[Images from Stardust and Paths of Hate via their sites]

First up Stardust, inspired by the death of Dutch graphic designer Arjan Groot, this team (PostPanic) created a mesmerising trip through galactic space showing planets, starts and our little blue ball. The sun and planet sequences with the particle effects are beautiful and show a real flare for how gorgeous destruction and explosions of this sort can be as well as showing great technical skill. The other inspired short here is Paths of Hate which brings us some grand cell shading in an interesting 3D scape. Check out the short and SIGGRAPH presentation by Director Damian Nenow below, and see the full piece right here. Use of 3DsMax and VrayTune were important along with the 'drawing layer' in delivering the look --- and it does look great.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

New SimCity

One of the greatest computer games of all time is the beautiful sim-game-hybrid SimCity which has evolved over the years and we are about to get the new SimCity in early March. From a quick look at these videos and promo chatter there is alot to be excited about with this title.

We are setting up the BE computer labs for the coming session and one of the requests was for SimCity 4 to demonstrate in an approachable sim format a range of planning issues to first year students. So it will be interesting to see how that goes and whether the newer version has more to offer for coming sessions/years.

Interestingly, EA and GLASSLAB have also launched SimCityEDU which is specifically geared to utilising the game as a platform for teaching and exploring the challenges facing modern cities.While things are still in beta as we wait for the game's release, you can sign up at or get onto the beta if you are in a hurry.

The new version looks beautiful, in the same way that Civ5's graphical upgrades add a whole lot of engagement, the same goes here. Having not played for a few versions, the new SimCity has little pedestrians, more variety in transport, planning is more logical and the variety of events and buildings is greater. Add the multiplayer and other modes like the crime fighting super heroes in the Limited Edition and there is so much to love about this non-combat top-shelf computer game (how rare is that).

Here are some of their promo images that show in detail the richness of the city landscape that unfolds under our Mayorship:

[SimCity preview images]


Before we leave this post, lets throw in a pic or two from the rather incredible Minecraft build of Kings Landing (not directly related at all, but still mighty impressive):

[Minecraft Build of Kings Landing via the IMGUR gallery]

Monday, 18 February 2013

Pencil and Ink - Capullo and Glapion

One of my favourite ways to spend time is with sketchbook and pencil/pen in hand. Inspiration in the form of Greg Capullo is hard to match, from his work with Image (esp Spawn) he seemed a natural artist to bring the New 52 Batman to life. Below are a few images from his DeviantArt Gallery that show off how he brought together bats, owls and insane villainy. I really need to try and inject some of the dynamics and engaging shapes he brings to each character, let alone the sheer complexity of each panel.

[Greg Capullo pencils via his Deviant Art Gallery]

Alas no video of Greg's pencils in action, but no less gorgeous is the work of his inker partner Jonathan Glapion. Jonathan's Deviant Art Gallery is just as wonderful to look through as is his blog. Below are a few of his images and then a vid showing him inking a stunning owl for us with traditional media.

[Jonathan Glapion ink images via his Deviant Art Gallery]

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Celeryland Realtime Environment

A complete real-time environment is a vast amount of work taking in a whole range of artistic disciplines and some real technical craftsmanship.The threads by Jason Stokes on CryDev and PolyCount show off the creation of a vast environment that form a beta version of what will become online tutorials for FuturePoly at some point. The threads reveal a long and involved process beginning with some gorgeous concept artwork that is taken into explorative modelling through refinement (in-game) and final asset creation. The project uses the CryEngine and so reveals a suite of quirks that needed work-arounds or changes that will be useful for anyone using the SDK.

Visit the threads for more images and videos, but here are a few of them that show off the inspirational world of Celeryland. These images show off the concept paintings, paint-overs and in-game WIP shots and the videos show some great process to teach and inspire us all.